From Editors

#28
Orta Format
Diğer Yazıları

The seeds of this issue sowed in a pretty-depressing phone call. Problems such as belating the deadlines, last-minute setbacks in the content of issues, increasing workloads in our individual lives, and the routine itself has been dulling our interest and enthusiasm for almost a whole year. The burden growing by that phone call, where the word "termination" used for the first time has evolved to a question - "How do other initiatives cope with these problems?" The point that we have got was to start preparing an issue on this subject with great eagerness and devotion. In other words, this whole issue starts from a very personal matter: We are asking our close contacts who share similar problems and organizational models with us for the solution to our problems. The subject of this issue is having a heart-to-heart talk. 

We tried to gather this issue under three roofs: The articles on art initiatives, the interviews with other initiatives, and the links of previous researches in this field. In addition to the texts by actors from the visual arts discipline such as PASAJ, Deniz Kırkalı, Fatma Belkıs, İpek Çınar, and Şener Soysal; we also publish the transcription of a music forum moderated by Berna Göl, Günseli Naz Ferel, and Ümit Üret who work on independent music initiatives and music sociology. This text helped us to set the conceptual framework while working on the issue. Moreover, it indicated how common our problems are, even if we work in different disciplines. 

In the interviews section, we wanted to include not only active initiatives but also the ones that decided to terminate or shift their fields that they have been working. In our questions in this section, there were certain concepts that we wanted to focus on: Independence, organizational forms, institutionalization, and economic sustainability. It was surprising to see the variety of approaches that the initiatives have, although they share the same field and era with the others. 

While some insist on sustaining its initiative by covering it from their source and considering external financial support as the biggest challenge to independence, the others think that working without economic-support is a reflection of capitalism and labour exploitation. Some initiatives strictly separate personal production of the team from initiative's, while others sustain the initiative because of these individual necessities. While some regard independent initiatives as a fortress against institutionalization, others believe that tabooing the institutionalization is useless. This polyphony is very pleasing and lays stress upon this: There is a lot to learn from each other.

We are quite happy to see that there are a lot of independent initiatives, collectives, and artist-run spaces. We tried to limit our interviews to photography-related-initiatives or by-photographer-initiatives so as not to get lost by keeping the subject too extensive. We also included a few initiatives that we believe helped us to develop in our youth. We got a little emotional at that moment, and not thought whether they were related to photography, we guess. Some initiatives that we can count as our guides chose not to be a part of this issue. This situation, which we think is related to lack of time or energy rather than a personal matter, remains as a question mark in our minds: Maybe there is indeed an expiration date for initiatives, and after a while, people start to focus on their individual productions (Maybe it is just a coincident, we are not sure.) 

Another topic which we did not consider while working on this issue was opened by Oğuz Karakütük: Even though they are not independent, some institutional formations that provide their economic sustainability by selling goods/ services also take the initiative, and we had slightly excluded them. The independence of these formations was a question mark for us when we started to prepare this issue, but at the end of the process, the total concept of independence became a question mark. For instance, as Orta Format, we feel dependent on ourselves. We depend on our work schedules where we earn our livings, on our troubles in daily lives, and -as Şener Soysal stated in his article in this issue- we depend on our and each other's SAKE. For this reason, independence has become a blurry cloud in the state of suspension. When we put the romantic perspective on the second side and focus on sustainability (as both an initiative and as individuals), perhaps the solution should be institutionalization. For this reason, we interviewed with legal entities such as Ka Atelier, GAPO, and Espas Kitap. We wished to learn the costs and consequences of institutionalization. 

In this process, we were investigating the other organizations that worked in this field before. We have participated in workshops, and brainstormings of other initiatives such as poşe, PASAJ, amberPlatform, and we learned a lot. The master theses of Elif Bursalı and Fatma Belkıs, the talk series, Çağdaş Sanatta Sivil Oluşumlar ve İnisiyatifler, by Levent Çalıkoğlu were the sources we highly benefited. Although we were aware of the theses and talk series, we did not know the works of other initiatives before. The reason for this, as Zeynep Okyay states, seems to be that we are a little bit lazy to document and archive what we do. Most of the aforementioned researches were neither recorded nor published on online platforms. For this reason, we have added a links-section to share the outputs of the organizations that worked on this topic. This section is open for a contribution at any time. 

As we mentioned above, there is a lot to learn from each other. Since the first moment that we started to work on this issue, we have learned a lot from many initiatives. Furthermore, we know that this process has not ended yet, as soon as this issue meets with the audience, more new opinions will join us. That is why we decided to keep open this issue for contributions (This is the advantage of being an e-magazine.) Those who have a say in this topic can join in this issue at any time. We also noticed one more thing in this issue, a giant leap for humankind: We need to talk more. We need to communicate more, listen to each other, see each other out of business or exhibition openings. The most important thing that will improve initiatives and keep them alive is good faith and communication.

 

(Cover photo: Erdem Varol)